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In re A.D.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.D., Minor Child, A.W., Mother, Appellant, R.D., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         Both parents appeal the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights.

          Jane M. White of Jane M. White Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant mother. Jeremy Feitelson of Feitelson Law, L.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anna T. Stoeffler (until withdrawal) and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

          Magdalena Reese of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.

          SCHUMACHER, Judge.

         Both parents appeal the juvenile court order terminating their parental rights. We find it would not be in the child's best interests to grant the parents an extension of time to work on reunification, there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support termination of their parental rights, termination is in the child's best interests, and none of the exceptions to termination should be applied. The child has extensive medical needs that the parents are not able to meet.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         A.W., mother, and R.D., father, are the parents of A.D., born in 2018. The father's parental rights to another child were terminated in December 2017. The record alludes to the termination of A.W.'s parental rights regarding two other children in approximately 2013. As the State did not file documentation of the mother's previous termination, the juvenile court did not consider the previous terminations and declined to terminate pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) (2019) for either parent. The juvenile court also declined to terminate under section 232.116(1)(e).[1] The juvenile court terminated both parents' rights under section 232.116(1)(h).

         A.D., who was approximately ten months old at the time of the termination hearing, was born with Pierre Robin Sequence, a genetic disorder that results in a small lower jaw, a tongue that is further back than normal, and blockage of the airways. She has a cleft hard and soft palate and is fed primarily through a feeding tube. A.D. cannot be exposed to second-hand smoke or be touched, held, kissed, or in contact with people who are exposed to smoke of any kind. A.D. spent thirty-two days in intensive care after birth. During this time, the parents did not learn how to care for the child's special needs resulting in the child not being placed in the parents' custody on release from the hospital. On November 16, 2018, the juvenile court placed A.D. in foster care following discharge from the hospital.

         The juvenile court adjudicated the child to be in need of assistance (CINA), pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2), (e), and (n) (2018). The court stated:

All parties acknowledge the needs of this medically fragile child to continue to get highly skilled medical care and to be carefully and closely monitored for her medical needs. It was emphasized that this is a case where the parents are going to need to demonstrate parenting skills and the abilities to meet the specific needs of this particular child in order for our permanency goal of reunification to be possible.

         Regarding the parents' failure to learn to provide the specialized care A.D. requires, a social worker noted that when offered the opportunity to feed her or do something for her, the parents have declined and allowed the foster mother to do it instead. It was further reported that neither parent has demonstrated that they are interested in putting forth ...


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